Chili con Carne

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It’s Super Bowl Sunday, but we’re not big football fans. The game is about getting together, listening to the national anthem, watching funny commercials, munching on snacks, enjoying the half-time show…oh and there’s the actual football game. Almost forgot about it. Unless the 49ers are in it, I’m not interested in who’s playing.

This year is different. Not that I get out much, but the last party I went to was our friend’s huge Super Bowl 2020 party. He had two TVs going, a kitchen peninsula overflowing with pot luck items, ice coolers brimming with beverages, and multiple chafing dishes full of Asian deliciousness from his family’s restaurant. There’s much talking, laughing, and small children running about (except my teenager who is bored out of his mind). There’s a little television watching, but mainly it’s about the food and the commercials.

This year is different, I repeat. I just tell myself it’s a different type of Super Bowl where we all should be socially distanced. Please stay home. It’ll be quiet, calm, and sometimes that’s okay. We might have the TV on. I’m going to make some cheeseburger and bacon sliders (recipe coming soon!). I thought about making my chocolate football brownies or chocolate dipped football strawberries, but I just want an afternoon of peace and a little reflection. It’s the year to slow down.

If you read this and have time to run to the store, do it because this dish is amazing and perfect for the Super Bowl. It takes forever to make so you can start mid-afternoon and have something ready by dinner time. Before I made it, I wondered if it was really worth the effort. YES! I’m talking about chili con carne. And it’s not from a can. It’s amazing. I can’t say that enough.

I decided to look up the difference between chili con carne and chili. There isn’t really. I guess if your chili has no meat, you really shouldn’t call it chili con carne, but some people would wonder if that’s even chili. Then there’s the whole controversy of beans versus no beans, which I will not get into. You guys duke that one out on your own.

Okay, enough talking and let’s get down to business. I found this recipe on Simply Recipes, and was really pleased how awesome it came out. I only made a couple substitutions. My biggest complaint is that it takes way longer than 10 minutes to prep. I don’t know who these people are except a chef on Chopped. It took me 10 minutes alone to cut up the meat. So, bottom line, give you yourself at least 30 minutes to bring all your ingredients together.

Chili con Carne

Measure out all your seasonings and place them in a small bowl with some water to make a paste.

Chili con Carne

This recipe calls out for two types of chili powder, red and chipotle. I didn’t want to spend $4 on chipotle chile powder (hello, that cuts into my Starbucks habit) when I already had ancho chile powder (and I have no idea why I did have that). How different can they be? Apparently not enough for this cook. Chipotle chile powder is made from smoked, dried jalapenos. Ancho chile powder is made from dried poblanos, which results in a milder, sweeter chile powder that isn’t quite as smoky or hot as chipotle. In my opinion, either is fine, and if you want, just stick to your standard red chili powder if you want. You might miss some of the smokiness, but you’ll be fine.

Next, get your bacon going in a fry pan while you finish up dealing with your onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes. Squeeze some lime juice and measure out the sugar. You can also drain and rinse some beans, and measure out the cornstarch, which you’ll put aside for now.

When the bacon is done, chop it up into bite size pieces. The recipe calls for you to cook it so you can crumble it, but I like my bacon a little meatier than that. I want substance.

Toss in the meat in batches to sear. Do not be tempted overcrowd the beef all into one pan or you’ll end up with a big pile of steaming meat. Not a good thing. By the way, the recipe says to drain the bacon fat and use a tablespoon for the meat. No way. I’m not going to that mess and it’ll taste better my way. This is not a time to be all healthy.

After you’ve seared the beef, set it aside and start on your onions.

Chili con Carne

Next add garlic and jalapenos. In this household, I usually hold back the spice for the boys, but not this time. Jalapenos really aren’t that spicy if you don’t include the membranes.

Chili con Carne

Next add your spice paste and cook it a little longer.

Put all this fragrant goodness into a large pot or Dutch oven along with the bacon, tomatoes, some water, lime juice, and sugar.

Chili con Carne

There’s a lot of flavors going on here, which is good because you’re going to let it cook for a couple of hours while you “watch” the game, snack, and drink beer. Well, if you’re on the East coast, you might want to make this a few hours before the game and dig in just as the game starts. You can still snack and drink beer. No one’s stopping you and if we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s apparently to be day drinkers.

After 90 minutes, uncover the pot and let it simmer for another 30 minutes. When that’s done, you’ll think that you have a watery soup/stew situation going on. But wait! There’s more! Mix up your cornstarch with some water until it’s dissolved (no lumps) and add it to the pot. Throw in your beans (shocking, I know). Add a bit of salt, if it needs it. You might need to add a little more lime juice or sugar, but I didn’t think so.

Chili con Carne

Just in case, dip a corn or tortilla chip into it to taste. If you’re not sure, continue and repeat. It’s pretty much amazing at this point and eventually you should share it with others so take it off the heat, ladle into bowls, throw some cheddar cheese and onions if you like, and serve.

Chili con Carne

This is not your canned chili. I was concerned that I would spend hours making this to discover it’s not worth it. Wrong. It’s totally worth it. Just plan ahead. This is not a weekday meal, but it freezes well so you can have it anytime you want. Now I have to be concerned that the boys won’t want canned chili ever again.

Chili con Carne

Servings 8


  • 2 tablespoons red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder or chipotle
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 3 strips thick bacon
  • 2 1/2 pounds chuck roast cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • salt
  • 1 medium white onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 jalapeno chili peppers stems removed, seeded, membranes roomed, minced
  • 14 ounces whole tomatoes broken up
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 14 ounces red kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in a couple tablespoons of water
  • salt
  • grated cheddar cheese and chopped onion optional


  • In a small bowl mix the red chili powder, ancho chile powder, ground cumin, oregano, thyme, and ground coriander seeds. Mix in water so that the spices forms a light paste. Set aside.
  • Cook the bacon in a large skillet on medium high heat until it's slightly underdone. Set aside on a paper towel. Leave the bacon fat in the skillet. When the bacon cools, chop it into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
  • Increase heat to medium high. Working in batches so that you don't crowd the beef , sear the beef cubes on all sides, lightly salting as you cook the beef. Remove beef from pan, set aside.
  • In the same skillet, add the chopped onions and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add and cook the garlic and jalapeno for a minute until fragrant. Add the chili paste and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
  • Into a 6-quart thick-bottomed Dutch oven or pot, put onion chili mixture, beef, bacon, broken down tomatoes (break up the whole tomatoes with your fingers as you put them in the pot), water, lime juice, and sugar. Heat the chili on medium high heat until it comes to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Then uncover and simmer for another half hour.
  • Mix the cornstarch powder into a little water to dissolve the cornstarch completely and add to the chili to thicken it. Gently mix in the kidney beans. Add salt to taste.
  • Ladle into bowls and top with grated cheddar cheese and chopped onion.
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